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Lowering water level to control recruitment and FA
#457858 10/19/16 09:11 AM
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When my pond was redone, I had an Agri-Drain water control structure put in so I have the ability to lower my water level about 3 ft, or probably about 25% of volume within a few days. I also have the ability to refill with well water fairly quickly. My pond is stocked with RES, SMB and FHM. My objectives presently are oriented toward raising trophy redears. At this time I plan to lower my pond twice a year in an attempt to help me achieve those objectives and I wanted thoughts from Pond Boss.

Spring: Lower the water level when water hits approximately 70-72 degrees for 2 weeks. RES begin to spawn at 68-75 degrees. I'm thinking lowering the water at this time may disrupt the spawn and make it less successful, decreasing recruitment of young RES. Also, a secondary benefit may be that it may help control the amount of Filamentous Algae that grows in the pond at this time of year.

Fall: I have lowered my pond presently, again for a couple reasons. This seems to have put most of my vegetation on the banks and forced the young of the year RES into open water to be more readily predated by larger fish. I'm also hoping the rotting and decaying Filamentous Algae will die on shore rather than in the water and use up dissolved oxygen.

Maybe I'm overthinking this whole thing, but as a bit of a biology nerd I wanted to play around and see what type of response I would get from the pond when doing such. I don't wanna lower the pond in warmer temps as I don't want to play around too much when the DO levels aren't as high.

Another project I'm working on is adding on an elbow and an extension to the pond side of my Agri Drain water control structure. I could set the extension in the bottom of my pond so that the water being released would actually be the anoxic water being pushed up from the bottom.

Any thoughts on this would be appreciated.


Last edited by NEDOC; 10/19/16 09:19 AM.

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Re: Lowering water level to control recruitment and FA
NEDOC #457860 10/19/16 09:30 AM
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I can tell you that water level changes certainly help with vegetation control....both my big and small ponds have responded well to that this year. I don't have any data on spawn changes and/or YOY control, but based on what I've read it certainly should help.


Dale



"When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water." - anonymous
Re: Lowering water level to control recruitment and FA
NEDOC #457867 10/19/16 11:49 AM
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NEDOC, beautiful picture! The algae draped over the rocks is one of the reasons I'm not sure I want to put a lot of rocks or riprap on the shore line. I love the rock look and really see the benefit for critters of all shapes and sizes to live around and under the rocks. But I do a fair amount of raking out of fallen leaves in the spring and a lot of algae in the late summer and fall. I imagine it would be quite tough to clean riprap and rocks of algae? is it all manual picking it out piece by piece by hand?

I use a landscape rake now and can get quite a bit of algae and leaves pretty rapidly with my smooth sloped bottom. Still it is hard work no matter what way you look at it.

Re: Lowering water level to control recruitment and FA
NEDOC #457872 10/19/16 12:27 PM
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I don't plan to physically remove it. I was just letting it die on land. I'm positive it would be better to remove it, but figure having it die and oxidize on land would be better than dying in the water. I'm sure much of the nutrient load will still be in my pond. Maybe I'm wrong. Hoping Bill Cody chimes in on his thoughts about how this may impact water chemistry.


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Re: Lowering water level to control recruitment and FA
NEDOC #457880 10/19/16 01:43 PM
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Yes,
I'd love to know where the nutrients go. My understanding is that floating FA is 'dead' already and therefore this is why it is floating. If the nutrients are tied up in the strands then I don't know if those nutrients can be released back into the pond even if the FA is dead. (whether wet and dead in the water or dry and dead on the land)

So if your FA lays on the rocks, is dead but then the water level comes up and the FA goes back to floating in the shallows are the nutrients still going back in the pond? Maybe it depends on how dried out the dead FA strands are?

Re: Lowering water level to control recruitment and FA
NEDOC #457882 10/19/16 02:08 PM
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NEDOC,

Wondering if it would be better to let the RES start spawning and then drop the water vs. dropping the water before they spawn.

Re: Lowering water level to control recruitment and FA
Chris Steelman #457883 10/19/16 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted By: Chris Steelman
NEDOC,

Wondering if it would be better to let the RES start spawning and then drop the water vs. dropping the water before they spawn.


That's something I was hoping for a response on. When and if I should drop the water level. And if I may need to lower the pond more than the 3 ft that I am lowering it.

Again, I don't want the water getting too warm while I have it lowered as I'm afraid of it creating some DO issues.

Re: Lowering water level to control recruitment and FA
NEDOC #457885 10/19/16 02:32 PM
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I think that if you drop the water level before they spawn they will just move to new spawning location.

If you let them spawn and then drop the water level you would be drying up the spawning beds and forcing any fry to open water where they would be preyed upon.

Re: Lowering water level to control recruitment and FA
Chris Steelman #457889 10/19/16 03:34 PM
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^^^^^^ What he said.

Unless you walk around the pond and pick up the dried up FA and remove it from the watershed, when the water levels rise the nutrients will be recycled back into the pond.

If there is sufficient water clarity, the bass will spawn in deeper water, and not be affected by the draw down. IIRC a pond with SMB and LMB experienced spring water level draw downs and it was found that the SMB recruitment was better than the LMB recruitment because the SMB were making nests in deeper water that did not go dry when the water level dropped.

Last edited by esshup; 10/19/16 03:36 PM.

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Re: Lowering water level to control recruitment and FA
Chris Steelman #457896 10/19/16 04:11 PM
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Originally Posted By: Chris Steelman
I think that if you drop the water level before they spawn they will just move to new spawning location.

If you let them spawn and then drop the water level you would be drying up the spawning beds and forcing any fry to open water where they would be preyed upon.


Which begs the question, how exactly do I know when to drop the water for maximum benefit?

Re: Lowering water level to control recruitment and FA
NEDOC #457900 10/19/16 04:41 PM
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You would need to observe spawning behavior and guarding. You would need to know how long the eggs take to hatch and how long until they leave the nest.

Whats your visibilty like in the spring? If you walked around the pond could you see them spawning?

Re: Lowering water level to control recruitment and FA
NEDOC #457904 10/19/16 05:49 PM
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Originally Posted By: NEDOC
... My pond is stocked with RES, SMB and FHM. ...


Interesting idea. I think I'm missing part of the equation though. Once the SMB and RES eliminate the FHM, what are the SMB going to eat if you take away most/part of the RES spawn as well?

Last edited by Bill D.; 10/19/16 05:49 PM.


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Re: Lowering water level to control recruitment and FA
NEDOC #457906 10/19/16 05:58 PM
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Nedoc, I have the same mix of fish but also have a small number of YP and lots of golden shiners, I also have zero FA in my pond.



Re: Lowering water level to control recruitment and FA
Shorty #457911 10/19/16 07:50 PM
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Originally Posted By: Shorty
Nedoc, I have the same mix of fish but also have a small number of YP and lots of golden shiners, I also have zero FA in my pond.


I'm definitely considering golden shiners in the future. Since you're trying that option I thought I'd stick with this combo for now and compare notes. Btw I do have a small population of yp as well. Damn near identical ponds but I think clarity in my pond averages 3' plus.


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Re: Lowering water level to control recruitment and FA
Bill D. #457912 10/19/16 07:52 PM
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Originally Posted By: Bill D.
Originally Posted By: NEDOC
... My pond is stocked with RES, SMB and FHM. ...


Interesting idea. I think I'm missing part of the equation though. Once the SMB and RES eliminate the FHM, what are the SMB going to eat if you take away most/part of the RES spawn as well?


1) Optimal feed
2) Almost 0% I wipe out the spawn altogether. Just hoping to limit recruitment a bit so the larger ones don't have to compete as much. I also plan on using rod n reel to control numbers.


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Re: Lowering water level to control recruitment and FA
Chris Steelman #457913 10/19/16 07:53 PM
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Originally Posted By: Chris Steelman
You would need to observe spawning behavior and guarding. You would need to know how long the eggs take to hatch and how long until they leave the nest.

Whats your visibilty like in the spring? If you walked around the pond could you see them spawning?



I can definitely watch the fish on the beds. Or at least the shallower ones.


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Re: Lowering water level to control recruitment and FA
NEDOC #457916 10/19/16 08:03 PM
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Originally Posted By: NEDOC
Originally Posted By: Shorty
Nedoc, I have the same mix of fish but also have a small number of YP and lots of golden shiners, I also have zero FA in my pond.


I'm definitely considering golden shiners in the future. Since you're trying that option I thought I'd stick with this combo for now and compare notes. Btw I do have a small population of yp as well. Damn near identical ponds but I think clarity in my pond averages 3' plus.


My water clarity has been 11" to 14" all summer, I can take a bucket of pond water, set it on the dock and it will clear up and start growing FA in few days. I think my GSH are eating and keeping the FA at bay and also stiring up the bottom along the pond edges.



Re: Lowering water level to control recruitment and FA
NEDOC #457921 10/19/16 09:08 PM
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I may have to try some golden shiners in my dad's pond. He has a significant FA problem. And by significant, I mean my stepmother can't stand the looks of it.

Last edited by NEDOC; 10/19/16 09:09 PM.

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Re: Lowering water level to control recruitment and FA
NEDOC #457929 10/20/16 01:04 AM
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Man do I ever get crazy rock envy when you post on your RES pond!

Crayfish will help with FA control...your SMB should keep populations under control.

If you allow the FA to dry, you can remove it much easier as it comes off in mats...as I'm sure you're aware. Still, a crappy job. Maybe time to consider some aeration?

How are your SMB doing? Any WR measurements this Fall? They should be 10-12" by now, with a few exceptional fish up to 14"???


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Re: Lowering water level to control recruitment and FA
NEDOC #457933 10/20/16 09:18 AM
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As far as I can tell my SMB are doing great. I honestly haven't fished it much yet as the RES I want to cull didn't become large enough to catch til here recently. We can catch RES about every 2 min if we want to. But as soon as someone catches a 10+" I shut them down and let them apply for that Master Angler award (kids only). So far we've caught 35-40 RES total, and 6 of them have been over 10". The others are around 9.5" and some smaller in size. Anything under 8" goes into my big pond. We've only caught
3 SMB and they were 10-11.5" but I didn't get a RW on them as it was one of the few moments I didn't have a scale with. They look super healthy though. They're a blast. I'm thinking they will keep the RES under 3" under control and anything above that I will control with rod and reel then transport to my larger pond. One of the big reasons I opted to lower my water was to give the SMB a predatory advantage this fall. We'll see soon enough.





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Re: Lowering water level to control recruitment and FA
NEDOC #457948 10/20/16 12:31 PM
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Would a decent leaf blower knock the FA off of the riprap when it all dries? Maybe hit it wish a brush extension on a weed-eater body, and then use a leaf blower to kick it out of the basin.

Re: Lowering water level to control recruitment and FA
NEDOC #457952 10/20/16 12:45 PM
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Catching RES every two minutes.................... wow. You have them trained like BG. grin

As far as removing dried FA, it is best to catch it at just the right moisture content. When it is completely wet it is slimy, heavy and hard to handle. If you let it dry completely out it becomes brittle so it breaks up easily and it also sticks to rocks making the collection even harder.

But if you catch it when it is about half dried, most of the moisture is gone out so you do not break your back lifting it. But it is still pliable enough (and not stuck to the rocks hard enough) so a pitch fork (old farm manure fork) can slide under a portion and lift up a big mat then fold it over and get a good big mat to remove.

That is the best way I have found to handle it. Drag it to the edge of the shore line (or in your case just drop the water level), let it partially (but not fully) dry, and remove with pitch fork like a person was handling hay with it.


John

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Re: Lowering water level to control recruitment and FA
NEDOC #457954 10/20/16 01:30 PM
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Thanks snrub


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Re: Lowering water level to control recruitment and FA
NEDOC #457958 10/20/16 02:48 PM
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That SMB is a chunk, I'm guessing easily 110-120 WR maybe more.


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Re: Lowering water level to control recruitment and FA
NEDOC #457978 10/20/16 10:54 PM
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The Optimal feed is probably what made the RES size take off! If not the Optimal though, it's likely snails, but I don't think I'd want to inhibit the spawn, which is only once. RES can spawn in the fall rather than spring, also.

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